Book Reviews · Reading

Book Review: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (#97)

Book: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

#97 on the Telegraph’s 100 novels everyone should read.

Grade: C

What is the story about?

The story is a comedy science fiction. It follows the adventures of Arthur Dent, who is the last surviving human after the destruction of planet earth. The book is the first of a series of five novels.

 Verdict:

I am a bit worried to review this book because of its huge following. But, as always, I will be honest and say truly what I think.

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 Honestly, I am torn. On one hand, the book is very funny in some parts. It makes fun of the political and economic systems, religion, power, money, and so much more in a light and funny manner. Adams also has very clever and witty quotes throughout the book that are pure genius. It’s also important to remember this book was published in 1979, and how this book predicted many of our everyday tech is uncanny. Like the Hitchhiker’s guide itself is a digital book and the computer is touch screen.

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 But… ** SPOILER ALERT **

The storyline is plain ridiculous. A man from England was saved from the Earth’s destruction by a friend of his, who turned out to be an alien. They hitchhiked a ride in a spaceship. Then they were kicked out of it and one second before they die in space, they were picked up by another spaceship, which was stolen by the intergalactic president, who has two heads and three arms btw. The outlaw president wanted to go to a planet which legend says has a lot of money. The planet used to make custom planets for the rich and they are the ones who made Earth. They were commissioned by mice to do it, who btw are running the show on Earth. All this so a clever computer can answer the ultimate question of the universe: What is the point of life?

 So what is the point of life according to the computer? 42.

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 As I said, I am torn. I think I might have to agree with the people who say the Hitchhiker’s Guide is a one liner book. It is full of gems here and there but the middle is not so good.

 On the back cover, the Washington Post Book World calls it “inspired lunacy”. I think it’s more of lunacy with some inspiration scattered through. Sorry Hitchhiker’s Guide fans, this is my honest opinion 🙂

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Next book: 1001 nights. I am actually not really looking forward to it as I am not a fan of short stories, and the book being 960 pages (and it’s only volume I), but I will give it a try. If I like it, I will read the next two volumes. If I don’t, will go to book # 95.

 Happy reading all.

Book Reviews · Reading

Book Review: The Home and the World (#98)

Book: The Home and the World by Rabindranath Tagore

#98 on the Telegraph’s 100 novels everyone should read.

Grade: C

What the story is about?

The book is set in 1908 in one of India’s Maharaja’s estate. There are three main characters: Nikhil (the righteous Maharaja), Bimala (his wife), and Sandip (an outspoken political leader, and Nikhil’s old friend). The book is written in first person as each chapter flips between narrating the perspective and thoughts of each of the three main characters. It is a political tragedy, which sets the political ground and foreshadows the outcome of the partition in 1947.

Verdict?

Honestly, this was a very hard read for me and took me a while to finish, even though it is just 200 pages.

1)      Philosophical writing:

I am honored to read a book written by the man who wrote the Indian national anthem, but I think his writing is above my IQ level. My mommy brain strained to get all the lessons and information given, that I had to reread some passages and sometimes even full pages. I am sure I didn’t get the full meaning of his philosophy, and missed many lessons on the way.

Plus I didn’t really understand the struggle that this book depicts. Bimala was infatuated with Sandip, the strong talking freedom fighter and struggled to balance this feeling with the feelings towards her husband. Apparently, this symbolizes the struggle between the love of Western culture and the revolution against it, hence the name of the book: the home and the world. But I didn’t really understand which character was the ‘home’ and which was the ‘world’. Was Sandip the ‘home’ because he revolted against Western culture and Nikhil the ‘world’ because he embraced it? Or was Sandip the ‘world’ because he emulated Western standards and always read Western books, while Nikhil was ‘home’ because he was the righteous Maharaja who stuck to his roots and his old Indian furniture and refused to change them just to impress foreigners? As I said, I think all this is above my level of reading.

2)      Frustration:

  • Marriage: I remember when I was 15, the movie “Unfaithful” came out. And I remember crying my eyes out. Poor Richard Gere! How could his wife do such a thing?! And I still feel this way. Marriage to me is a sacred thing. And yes of course sometimes it doesn’t work out, but that doesn’t mean you should cheat or lie. End it, then move on. This is one reason I was so frustrated while reading this book. Bimala went from worshiping her husband, saying that her true place was at his feet, to being infatuated by Sandip and actually losing respect for her husband because he was level headed and not so rash. No human can possibly offer me, or tell me anything that will diminish my infatuation, love, and respect for my husband, and if I can, I will bend down and take the “dust off his feet.”
  • Why?!? It was such a frustrating two weeks for me. We all got sick, one at a time. Why isn’t the fever going down even after giving the meds? Why is my son sick again after only three days of being ok from his first virus attack? Why does their school field trip that they’ve been waiting for have to be the day they have a fever and feel miserable? Then after their bedtime, I start reading my book and the ‘why’s’ start again. Why Bimala why? Why are you letting this guy break the strongest most sacred bond you have? Why Nikhil are you letting him do it, and allowing him to stay in your house? Why Sandip will you do this to your friend and your country just for selfish personal gains? Why?

 

Now that all the kids are better (its just me left with a fever), hopefully all the frustration is over.. Next book: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. Don’t know why but the name reminds me of the Solomon family from 3rd rock from the sun. We’ll see how it goes.

Book Reviews · Reading

Book Review: To Kill a Mockingbird (#99)

Book: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

#99 on the Telegraph’s 100 novels everyone should read.

Grade: B

What is it about?

The story follows six year old Jean Louise Finch (a.k.a. Scout; also the narrator of the story) and her family in the 1930’s in Alabama. Her father, Atticus, was appointed to defend a black man, Tom Robinson, accused of raping a white woman. Scout and her older brother Jem had to face being called names and were forced to comprehend the injustices of the world early in life.

Verdict?

I enjoyed reading this book. It has a very powerful message about racism, class, and prejudice in general that still resonates today. Also, being narrated by a kid and seeing the events unfold through the eyes of a 6-7 year old is very refreshing.

That being said, I understand why the book is studied at the middle school / high school level. The characters are all one dimensional. Both the story and characters are very simple and straight forward. Maybe this is deliberate to not take away from the limelight of the heavy issue on hand, but in the end, it gives a very simplistic impression on a reader.

It is also a bit too idealistic for me. Atticus can never realistically exist in real life. His sense of right and wrong is impeccable. Every word he utters is filled with wisdom and is a life lesson. This takes away from the realisticness of the story. I, as a reader, like to live in the novel that I read. I couldn’t really do that with this book. I find it very odd and funny that a fantasy book, The Lord of the Ring, felt more ‘real’ to me than this one.

In conclusion, I think it’s a wonderful book. Great read, and can’t wait for my kids to be in that age group so I can read and discuss it with them.

I also think it will make a great movie (I know there is one, haven’t seen it though and a remake is overdue). Hollywood will do great dramatizing the story and hailing Atticus as the hero that he is. As a movie, it would be amazing! As a novel, it is good, not amazing, but very good.

 Next book, The Home and the World by Rabindranath Tagore. I am so excited to read about a new culture, written in 1916 all the way from Calcutta India. The henna design on the cover is mesmerizing, hope the book is too.

Book Reviews · Reading

Book Review: The Lord of the Rings (#100)

Book: The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

#100 on the Telegraph’s 100 novels everyone should read.

Grade: A

What is it about?

I don’t think The Lord of the Rings needs any introductions. It is an epic tale where nine companions set out to save Middle Earth from falling into complete darkness by destroying the one ring that the Dark Lord needs so he can achieve complete domination. The story follows nine fellows of the ring: Gandalf (wizard), Aragorn (man), Boromir (man), Legolas (elf), Gimli (dwarf), Peregrin a.k.a. Pippin (hobbit), Meriadoc a.k.a. Merry (hobbit), Sam (hobbit), and Frodo (hobbit) on their quest to help the ring bearer annihilate the Lord of the Ring by destroying the ring itself.

Verdict?

Before I say anything about the book, I have to say this: I don’t like fantasy. I steer away from anything too whimsical, be it novel or movie. I can’t really understand anything that is too out there. That being said, I loved loved loved this book.

I don’t know where to start. Tolkien is a genius. He created an entire world that is so believable, even a fantasy-hater believed it. Each race and each individual has their own different dimensions and are beautifully crafted. The different languages, wonderfully named cities so intricately described that the reader feels they are walking there with them.

Let me add some more praise to Tolkien. He achieved with just letters on white paper, what Hollywood could not achieve with all its sound effects, visual effects, and handsomely paid actors. I hated the movie (only saw part one and two, as no one can persuade me to watch the third). I remember vividly in part 2 saying: Oh now they brought in walking talking trees? Come on! Reading the book I said: how I would love to meet an Ent! And maybe drink from their draught so my post baby hair could stop falling.

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I was scared when the Hobbits went to the Prancing Pony, I got goose bumps when Aragorn came on the black ships, and I couldn’t put the book down filled with suspense when Frodo and Sam were on Mount Doom. Now, watching the movies again with my husband, I keep on saying: no no noo! It shouldn’t be this way! Please stop messing with the plot Mr. Producer. Tolkien is considered a genius for a reason. And that is exactly why the book is much better than the movie.

I can’t really fault this book with anything. So I went to Google to see what other people saw that I couldn’t. I found two main schools of thought: racism and feminism. Now I am no Tolkien expert, I just read one book of his and know nothing of the fantasy genre or its history, but here are my thoughts regarding these two criticisms.

  1. Racism:I didn’t find the Lord of the Rings to be racist. Good and evil have forever been cast as black vs. white and darkness vs. light. This depiction was not about ‘race’ at all but about symbolism in the fight between good and evil. In my opinion, the Lord of the Rings is as racist as the yin yang.Yin_and_Yang.svg.png

     

    The only relationship in the book that I was a bit bothered with was Frodo and Sam’s relationship, as Frodo was his Master. But, as they are both from the same race and color, this can be called “master – ism” if that’s a word or superiorism, not racism.

  2. Feminism:

    Feminist critics point out the lack of female characters in the Lord of the Rings. And if they were present, they had feminine roles. Now I am a female and don’t feel at all insulted by Tolkien. I was actually insulted by George Elliot’s Middlemarch as the females there all had no brains what so ever and were only worried about how frilly their collars were. (Don’t get me started with that book! You can read its review here). Eowyn killed the head of the nazguls, the wring wraiths, whom all were afraid of, what ‘feminine role’ is that? True, there are much fewer females than males in this story, but I will take that over mindless, frill-seeking, immature ones any day.

 

And there you have it. My thoughts on an epic fantasy tale which to my great surprise, I loved! Next book: To Kill a Mockingbird. Harper Lee, you have one hard act to follow.